Endangered Afternoons

These endangered afternoons hang
like eggshells, suspended from a sky bleached by
its own wind, the way a desert seems like its own fault.
These afternoons are a different kind of barren,
pierced by spindly fingers of trees,
half-cracked by wasted plans, fading indistinctly
into the extinction of a deep and perilous evening.
Were these the longed-for afternoons I sought
when, drunk on the bee-sting venom of a sweltering afternoon,
alone in the jungle of my discontent,
I swore to another bleached-through sky
I would only ever love the winter?

Had I known then what I know now, would I have
been so eager to cast off the beaded arms
of friendlier warmth – not tensed so soon
or so fully, and learned to love the scent of a morning,
and learned the language of insects as they
spun their symphonies above my head?
Or would it have mattered to a girl
too young to be built on, fragile in extremity,
hardened by fear, unwillingly tanned –
was it that she was always unable to appreciate
the curve of a mountain hung with the scorched fruit
of a season? Am I still so illiterate – willfully so –
that the language of afternoons yet leaves me
so mutely terrified of time?

The afternoon is dying, but
I bear the curse of still being young,
earning still the bone antiquities that plague a soul
slowly brittling,
slowly shaved to sharpness –
must this be the way I grow old?

©K Paige Medina 1 December 2017

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Oil

I want to be the man who rescues the dogs of the desert,
but I am not.
I am the desert, rustling drily beneath an unforgiving sun,
that I also am,
punisher of cracked seeds, the beating heat of a purgatory
I cultivated for myself.
But I am also the dogs, running, tumbling,
children trapped in the spiny grasp of an unkind world,
but the world is me
and I am dry
and I am sweat
and I am asphyxiating on the calcified fossils of unsaid words
dipped, acidic, into poisons I feed myself,
where the roots of my soul cling desperately to
aquifers full of toxic, molten, gangrene sunlight.
Tarantino sunlight.
The sunlight that brings death in a bride–
a poached kind of brightness that
bleaches in nuclear fallout the bones of dogs
unrescued.
I want to be that beautiful savior,
but I am the unsaved and the desert,
bearing yellow teeth,
oozing with the oil slick hatred that grows,
abundant
in the dry, buzzard air.

©K Paige Medina 25 May 2017

Spider

Spider,
you tried to keep me afraid
but I met Ananse in Africa, and was

baptized in the silk of his tricks.
I learned to sweat out my anger
and not to kill what I feared;

your small spinner’s legs
are breakable too,
and I am no longer afraid of you.

©K Paige Medina 2 April 2017

Suspension

Is there a creature left on earth
Unafraid of falling–
Of the violence of shaken ground,
Of time suddenly stalling–
Do fish flung back to sea
Feel relief or feel afraid?
Are they sorry then to cease the
Soaring flight that they had made?
Can they mourn the loss of flying
Though it ended in a fall,
Or do they swim away instead
And never fear at all?

For I’ve been flung, myself,
Into abysses I have known,
And never been the happier
For once more falling home.

©K Paige Medina 6/30/16